November “What I’m Into:” Organization Systems and Bubble Bath

This month features a collection of very low-tech life hacks and happiness boosters!

This month, I’m into…

My Christmas gift organization system.

I love nonfiction books that give me a new tool for improving my life. After I read The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin, I changed the way I write to-do lists for work. Instead of making new lists every week and crossing things off as I go, I now put everything I need to do on white index cards. I keep a few colored cards in the deck that say things like “Today,” “This Week,” “Next Week” and “Long-Term,” and when I create a new to-do card, I slide it into the stack behind the appropriate heading. Every morning when I get to work, I pull out my neat little stack of cards and take out the ones that I want to accomplish that day. When I’m done with each task, I throw the card away, which is even more satisfying than crossing something off a list. If I don’t get to something,  I just slide it back into the deck for the next day. It’s more portable than a list, which is important for someone like me who works in two buildings. And it’s low-tech and low-cost.

This year, I had the brain wave to do the same thing with my Christmas list. I color-coded the cards by family and friend groups, wrote the name of each person on top of the card in pen, and ideas for the gifts in pencil. Then I created heading cards that say “To buy online,” “To buy in stores,” “To make,” and simply “?”  This way, when I want to do some shopping online, I just pull out the cards from that stack to remind me whom I’m shopping for; same for when I go out to shop. The “?” category will get moved to other categories when I have a better idea of what to get for those people. And once I’ve bought each gift, I can set the card aside in another pile to use for keeping track of wrapping presents. There’s even room on the card to write down where I’m storing each gift in the house.

In a related way, I’m also into…

My Erin Condren day planner.

I recently decided to go more low-tech on my out-of-work to-do lists as well, because I got tired of the glitches in my iCal reminders, and waiting for the lists to sync between devices. It was also confusing keeping track of some things on my computer, and other things (like exercise and writing goals) on my whiteboard. So I decided to combine them into one place: a written day planner.

This may be low-tech, but it wasn’t low-cost. Erin Condren planners cost about $50, but they’re the only ones I found that had sufficient monthly and weekly planning space, and divided up the days vertically rather than horizontally (my preference; they will make it for you either way). I also liked that I could personalize the cover and some of the other features. It is rather bulky, but I’m not carrying it around with me all day, so that doesn’t bother me. I’ve learned instead to set personalized alarms on my phone to remind me to make a phone call or pick something up after work; then I don’t need to check my list at all until I get home.

So far, I’m liking the new system a lot. I feel like it combines the best features of iCal and my whiteboard, and I like that I can flip back to a previous week and see what I accomplished. I bought it in mid-October and got all of 2016, plus the remaining months of 2015 for just $5.

And finally, I’m into…

This bath product.

Almost every night, I take a bath after Edwin goes to bed. I make it really hot so it rejuvenates my muscles and gets me very relaxed. I don’t stay in long, but it does the trick. I only read non-educational, “fun” books in the bath, like children’s books and old Archie comics. It’s my favorite winter evening activity.




What are you into this month?

Have you ever found a low-tech solution that works better than a high-tech one?


2 Responses to “November “What I’m Into:” Organization Systems and Bubble Bath”

  1. Kathy says:

    I loved reading about your November influences. I use an index card system for keeping up with household chores–low-tech, but effective for me. I like the idea of using them for Christmas presents, too. I’ve been toying with the idea of adapting the system for writing tasks, but I haven’t thought out how it would work yet. Daily, weekly, monthly tasks, and so on. I love your new planner, too. I clicked the link and looked at all the goodies there. I don’t need a new planner right now, but I though this one looked pretty and fun to use–always a plus in my opinion.

    And last, I am going to look for some of that foaming bath. I love hot baths, and often have sore muscles to soak. I use plain epsom salts, but this would be so much more pleasant.

    So far this month I have been into: complaining about the hot/humid weather (not something to be proud of, I know); yoga, reading Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss novels; and participating in the 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge, sponsored by Dani DiPirro of

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Thanks Kathy! I’m glad you liked my low-tech “innovations.” I’m not a Luddite by any means, but I often think we’re too dependent on technology. I love my new planner; it reminds me of the homework planners I had in high school. I took such care with them, and couldn’t wait to buy a fresh new one every September.


  1. What's Making Me Happy In November:: Leanne Sowul, Writer - […] a series of posts listing the little things that are making me happy. I used to call this “What I’m Into;”…

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